Now that summer is officially over (okay, so yeah, it's February. Maybe I under-exaggerate...), it means we no longer can mooch off of Camp food for every single meal.
That also means that I need to get my life together (or "get my poop in a group," if you will), and do some meal planning to avoid my typical Ramen Noodle-Spaghetti-Out to Eat rotation that I seem to fall into.
That's where The Binder comes in.
I seriously love this little planner o' mine, and I use it every day and lug it around with me, so planning meals with this thing is just a given.
There are a couple of ways that I've used to do meal planning with my planner, and each has it's merits. (I'm a big proponent of doing what works for you, and when a certain method stops working, I change it- and so should you.)
The first thing I tried was having a separate section devoted to meal planning.
I went super simple with it- I just used a plain grid style paper and wrote stuff down. We eat lunch at work, so I didn't have to include lunch plans on most days, as you can see in this example.
The nice thing about having a dedicated section is that as long as I keep my menus, I can just whip one out quick when I'm not feeling particularly inspired, and wham- meals are already planned for me.
(For a while, right after we got married and I wasn't working outside the home, I tried to do a new recipe every night for a month... which burned me out super fast. Now that I'm working full time and I'm so much wiser (ha), I try for a new recipe once a month. Because I set the bar low. )
Another nice thing about this system is that you can plan meals that use up specific ingredients. The Tomato Cream Chicken calls for a couple tablespoons of tomato paste- which leaves me with most of the can remaining. I use up that tomato paste later in the week with homemade pizza.
This method works really well if you've got a semblance of an idea of your schedule for most weeks.
Right now, Trevor's working late or I'm working late, we have extra meetings or small groups during the week, and our weekly calendar never quite looks the same.
We wing it. So while this is a great idea, it doesn't work awesome for us right now.
The next method I used (and the one I'm still using for the moment), is writing in meal plans into my daily pages. My daily pages are very flexible, so I just pop the meal planning at the bottom of each day.
The nice thing about this is that I can just plan for specific days, and having it in my daily pages allows me to see exactly what's going on that day.
Trevor has small group at 7? I'll have to make something quick and easy. I have small group? It's a good night for leftovers so I can finish my homework... (ahem).
It also helps me mentally prepare for what's happening supper-wise. (Yes, I have to mentally prepare. I don't cook much, kay?) When it's right in front of me, right there on my daily pages with my other to-do lists, I have less of a chance of forgetting what's for dinner.
The downside is that the menus aren't easy to replicate (although I don't typically want to copy them completely, because every week will be so different). And sometimes, the meal planning section kind of clutters up my daily pages.
Even so, it's working for us for the time being. Until I switch again.
... and just in case you think I'm nuts for making my own pages and switching them all the time, there are pre-made planners out there. I scoped out a couple, with menu planning specifically in mind, and here's what I found.
**These are affiliate links**
Emily Ley makes a Simplified Planner that includes a section for supper in the daily page layout-- check it out here:
She also makes The Home Base Binder Kit that looks pretty great- especially if you don't plan on lugging around your planner everywhere but still want some household organization. This binder has a menu planning section that's simple but pretty, and it includes a spot for a shopping list.
Franklin Covey (the daddy of all planners) makes cute daily pages that have large "notes" sections I like these ones- that you could use for meal planning, or, if you'd rather have a dedicated section,
OR, if you want to be really fancy, you can get these insert-able Franklin Covey note things that fit into a plastic pagefinder.
That way, you can have a weekly menu (and reuse it, if you'd like), while keeping your menu visible on a daily basis.
But now I'm just getting carried away.
How do you plan your menu and meals? Any tips or tricks?
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